On April 18, 2017, William Ashbaugh, Professor and Chair, Department of History, delivered this year’s Conable Distinguished Lecture for the College of Liberal Arts at Rochester Institute of Technology. His forty-five minute presentation, “A Brief History of Japanese Anime Fandom and Mobile Suit Gundam’s First Thirty-Eight Years,” was followed by another forty-five minutes of questions from students and interested faculty.
The lecture series honors the legacy of Barber Conable, Jr., a ten-term upstate New York Republican Congressman in the 1970s and 1980s who then became president of the World Bank for five years. During World War II he learned to speak Japanese and fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima. When the Korean War began, Conable re-enlisted. He is most famous for coining the term “smoking gun” during the Watergate hearings.